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Album of genealogy and biography, Cook County, Illinois : with portraits (Volume 1900) online

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1874; Anna Sophia Dorthe, born October 23,
1876; and Amanda Marie W. C., born in Matti-
son, January 12, 1883. The last three are at

Mr. and Mrs. Hahne are members of the Ger-
man Lutheran Church, and have educated their
children in that faith, and have also given them a
thorough English education. Mr. Hahne has
ever been a liberal contributor to the support of
the church. His education was acquired in the
schools of the Fatherland when quite young, but

although he never attended the public schools
after coming to America, by observation and close
application, he has acquired a good knowledge of
English. He is an ardent supporter of our pub-
lic-school system, and his influence has been
thrown into every educational movement. To
him more than to any other citizen of Mattison is
the public indebted for ten months school in each
year, not only in the public, but also in the paro-
chial schools. As Director or Township Treas-
urer, he has served almost continuously since his
arrival in Rich Township.

On the 22d of October, 1856, Mr. Hahne re-
ceived his naturalization papers, and in the fol-
lowing November he cast his first vote. He has
always been a stanch Republican, holding firmly
to the principles upon which the organization of
this party was based. He has held the office of
Justice of the Peace for the long period of twenty-
five years, that of Notary Public for twelve years,
and President of the Village Board of Trustees
for four years. To the performance of his duties
he has brought an intelligent mind and the right
idea of the practicability of a movement. He
is true to every trust, and his public and private
life are alike above reproach. Happy in a promis-
ing family, he has become the possessor of a rep-
utation for unsullied integrity of character.


IJjORMAN REXFORD, deceased, the first
\l permanent settler of Blue Island, and for
I /|) many years one of its most prominent citi-
zens, will be long remembered among the pioneers
of northern Illinois for his hospitality and kindly
manner. Mr. Rexford was born in Charlotte,
Vt., June 4, 1802, and died at Blue Island, March
28,1883. He was a son of Benajah and Zeruia
(Squire) Rexford, who had six children: Ste-

phen, Norman, Isabel (Mrs. Fayette Dickson),
HeberS., Elsie Ann (Mrs. Cooley) and Ruth,
who died in childhood. Benajah Rexford was
bora in Wallingford, Conn., June 23, 1780, and
died at Westfield, N. Y., March 25, 1862. His
second wife, Roxana Ayer, of Stanstead, Conn.,
bore him six children: Wilder A., Betsy L.
(Mrs. Daniel Morse), Olive H. (Mrs. Isaac
Relf), Louisa A. (Mrs. Thaddeus Ayer), So-



phronia H. (Mrs. L. Harmon) and Thomas

Benajah Rexford represented the fifth genera-
tion of his family in America, being descended
from Arthur Rexford, an English ship-master,
who was married at New Haven, Conn., Septem-
ber 3, 1702, to Elizabeth Stevens. Their eldest
son was also named Arthur, and his first wife,
Jemima, bore him eight children, one of whom,
named Benjamin, served in the Continental army.
He married Esther Hall, and they had eleven
children, the eldest, Benjamin, being also a Rev-
olutionary soldier. The latter married Catherine
Rice, and Benajah was the eldest of their six

Norman Rexford removed while a young man
to Ripley, Chautauqua County, N. Y., where he
was married, January 10, 1828, to Julia Wattles,
daughter of Chandler and Diana (Murray) Wat-
tles. Soon after his marriage, Mr. Rexford re-
moved to Pittsburgh, Pa., and thence, in 1835, he
drove by team to Chicago, arriving on the 5th
day of June. He first located at Bachelor's
Grove, Cook County, where his brother Stephen
had preceded him in 1833. A few months later,
Norman Rexford located at Long Wood, near the
north end of "the island," where he kept tavern
in a log cabin of four rooms. In November, 1836,
he removed to the present village of Blue Island.
A small log cabin had been erected the previous
year by a man named Courtney. This was a rude
structure, only 12x15 feet, without floor, and was
the only building within the present limits of the
village. Mr. Rexford proceeded to build a hewed
frame building for a hotel. This was sided with
boards drawn by team from Pine Creek, Ind.,
over one hundred miles distant, the lumber cost-
ing $40 per thousand. The building stood on the
east side of Western Avenue, at the top of the bluff,
on or near the site of the present post-office. As
the country was rapidly filling up with emigrants,
this hotel was well patronized. It was after-
wards enlarged, and continued to be a landmark
until 1858, when it was destroyed by fire. It was
known as the Blue Island House. Many a social
gathering was held therein, and many of the pio-
neers of Chicago and other points twenty or thirty

miles distant often drove thither to trip "the light
fantastic' ' upon its floor. The fun was frequently
continued until morning, many of the guests re-
maining to breakfast before departing for their
homes. In the spring of the year the prairie
roads were often almost impassable. It was cus-
tomary with Mr. Rexford to hang beacon lights
in the upper windows of the house on dark nights,
as a guide to all belated travelers who might be
struggling through the mire or the severe storms
of winter.

In 1838, a postoffice was established at Blue
Island, and Mr. Rexford served as Postmaster for
a number of years, during which time his son
Fayette carried the mail on horseback from Chi-
cago to Buncombe, 111., a distanee of ninety miles,
making weekly trips. Letter postage was twen-
ty-five cents, and nearly every house along the
sparsely-settled route was a postoffice. In 1852,
Mr. Rexford sold out the hotel and removed to a
farm adjoining the village, where the balance of
his days were spent. Most of the farm is now in-
cluded in the village, and it has appreciated in
value to an extent little dreamed of by him at the
time of his purchase. Mrs. Julia Rexford still
resides at Blue Island, at the venerable age of
eighty-four years. The following is a record of
their children: Fayette D. is proprietor of the
Centralia House at Centralia, 111. ; Laura A. , who
became the wife of A. B. Kyle, of Englewood, is
now deceased; Clarissa C. is now Mrs. H. H.
Massey, of Blue Island; Norman B. is a well-
known citizen of that place; Mary D. died in
childhood; Julia married James B. Massey, and is
now deceased; Susan Mary is deceased; Elizabeth
P. died in childhood; and Heber Squire became a
prominent citizen of Blue Island, where his death
occurred in 1882.

Mr. and Mrs. Rexford were active members of
the Universalist Church, and were interested in
many benevolent and charitable works. Seldom
was a man turned away from their door for want of
food or money, although their generosity was
sometimes imposed upon. Mr. Rexford never
engaged in litigation, or wished to see others do
so. It is said that at one time, after trying in
vain to adj ust a quarrel between two of his neigh-



bors, he paid the amount in dispute out of his own
pocket, rather than see them engage in a lawsuit.
In early life he was an active Democrat, but af-
terwards became a Republican. A stanch adher-

ent of every progressive movement, it may be
truly said that Blue Island owes much of its pres-
ent prosperity to the example of public spirit,
forethought and enterprise set by Mr. Rexford,


p 6JILLIAM HAMILTON, who resides in Bre-
\ A/ men Township, where he is living retired,
V Y enjoying a rest which he has truly earned
and richly deserves, was born in Ballymolin,
County Down, Ireland, in April, 1808, and is a
son of John and Mary Ann Hamilton, both of
whom spent their entire lives on the Emerald
Isle, reaching a very advanced age, the father
living to be one hundred and four years old, and
his wife to be eighty-six. The year 1822 witnessed
the arrival of William Hamilton in this country.
He lived for nine years in New York City, where
he learned the plasterer's trade, and also engaged
in making slate roofs. In 1838 he came West
and took up his residence in Bremen Township,
Cook County, then an undeveloped and unsettled
region. The- Indians occupied lands adjoining,
and for several years he had only two white neigh-
bors for miles around. The family lived in a log
cabin, and went through all the experiences of
frontier life. In 1850 Mr. Hamilton built the
present family homestead, in which he has since
lived. He has been a successful fanner and man
of business, and increased his landed possessions
from eighty to three hundred and twenty acres.
As an investment, he early bought city lots in
Blue Island, which he subsequently sold at a fine
profit, and later made very successful investments
in Hyde Park property, which is now owned by his
children. In 1879 he retired from active life, and
at that time apportioned his property among his
children. He is now spending his declining years
on the old homestead with his son John, and, al-

though he has reached the advanced age of eigh-
ty-six, he still enjoys excellent health. He is
one of the honored pioneers of the county, and by
all who know him is held in high regard. Since
fourteen years of age he has been a member of
the Presbyterian Church, and his life has been in
harmony with his profession.

In 1837 William Hamilton was united in mar-
riage with Miss Mary Ann Kelley, of New York
City. Her death occurred in December, 1887, at
the age of seventy-five years. They were the
parents of five children, four of whom are yet liv-
ing: William, a resident of Hyde Park; Mary
Jane, wife of W. A. Briggs, of Hyde Park;
Margaret, wife of John P. Roberson, of Hyde
Park; and John, who owns the old homestead in
Bremen Township. The fourth child, James G. ,
lost a limb in front of Richmond, Va. , in October,
1864, while serving in Company G, Thirty-ninth
Illinois Regiment. He died May 7, 1885, aged
forty-one years.

John Hamilton was born on the home farm,
July 27, 1842. During his boyhood he attended
the public schools and Hillsdale (Mich.) College.
In 1864, having completed his education, he
returned home, and since that time has de-
voted his energies to his extensive farming inter-
ests. Since 1879 he has had charge of two hun-
dred and forty acres of good land, comprising one
of the most valuable farms in this section of Illi-
nois, and for the past sixteen years he has made
a specialty of the dairy business. He keeps on
hand about fifty cows, and has met with excellent


success in that enterprise. He also raises some
fine horses, and is recognized as one of the lead-
ing farmers and stock- dealers of this locality.

On the 1 6th of November, 1882, Mr. Hamilton
was united in marriage with Miss Alma G. Lucas,
daughter of George and Barbara (Drummond)
Lucas, whose family numbers five children, the
others being Margaret, wife of W. Hulet, of Bre-
men Township; Robert and Arthur, well-known
farmers; and Clara L., wife of Dexter Minard,
who is represented elsewhere in this work. The
father, George Lucas, was a native of the Buck-
eye State, but during his boyhood left his Ohio
home, and has since resided in Illinois. By oc-

cupation, he is a farmer. His wife is a native of
Buffalo, N. Y. , and a daughter of James and
Margaret (McMartin) Drummond.

To Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton have been born three
children, Margaret Florence, Emily Clara and
John Emerson, and all are still under the parental
roof. In his political views, Mr. Hamilton is a
stalwart advocate of Republican principles,' and
has served as School Trustee of Bremen Town-
ship, but has never sought political preferment,
desiring rather to give his entire time and atten-
tion to his business interests, in which he has
met with good success.


(TOHN McELDOWNEY, one of the honored
I pioneers of Cook County, has for almost
G) sixty years resided on the site of Chicago
Heights, although it was long years after his ar-
rival that the town sprang into existence. The
history of Cook County as a frontier settlement is
well known to him, and the experiences of the
pioneer form a part of his record. He was born
in Ireland, on the nth of October, 1811. His
father, John McEldowney, and his grandfather,
who also bore the name of John, likewise were
natives of the Emerald Isle. The mother, who in
her maidenhood was Martha Caldwell, was born
in Ireland, and was a daughter of James and Jane
(Moorhead) Caldwell. Mr. McEldowney, the
father, was a farmer, and followed that occupation
throughout his entire life. In 1832, he crossed
the Atlantic to Canada, and in 1836 came to Cook
County, 111., where he spent his remaining days,
his death occurring on the 2oth of January, 1875.
With the Presbyterian Church he held member-
ship. His wife was called to her final rest March
5, 1861. They were married in 1810, and became

the parents of nine children, namely: John of this
sketch; Jane, who was born January 21, 1814,
became the wife of Robert Wallace, and died
in 1874; James, who was born May 4, 1816, has
followed farming throughout his life, and now re-
sides in Chicago Heights; Ann, who married John
Hughes, and died May 4, 1888; Thomas, born De-
cember i, 1821, retired, living in Chicago Heights;
Rosana, born May 28, 1822, and who died May 17,
1845, being the first one interred in Bloom Ceme-
tery; Catherine J., born June 15, 1824, the wife of
Stewart B. Eakem; Martha, who was born Jan-
uary 21, 1827, became the wife of John W. Mor-
rison, a minister of Bloom for twenty-five years,
and died on the 2d of May, 1894; and Elizabeth,
born July 10, 1829, deceased, wife of john Miller.
The eldest member of the family, in whom the
readers of this volume are especially interested,
well deserves representation in the history of his
adopted county. He acquired his education in
the public schools, and remained on the Emerald
Isle until 1832, when, with his father, he boarded
a sailing-vessel and became a resident of Canada.



There he began working on a farm, receiving $7
per month for his services. He was thus em-
ployed until 1835, when he resolved to seek his
home in Illinois, and in the spring of that year
started for Chicago. He made the first part of
the journey on foot as far as Burlington, Vt., and
by way of the Canal and Lakes to Detroit, from
whence he came on foot to his destination, a dis-
tance of three hundred miles.

For two months Mr. McEldowney worked in
the New York Hotel stable. He has cut hay
where the court house of Chicago now stands, and
has witnessed almost the entire growth and devel-
opment of Cook County. On the ist of July, 1835,
he took up his residence at Thorn Grove, now
Chicago Heights, and made a claim of four hun-
dred acres of land on sections 28 and 29, Bloom
Township, for which he paid the usual Govern-
ment price of $1.25 per acre. His first home was
a log cabin, built on the site of the present town,
and there he lived in true pioneer style. His
farming was done with crude machinery, and he
worked early and late in order to make a start.
His enterprise, perseverance and industry were at
length crowned with success, and at one time he
was the owner of a very valuable farm of five
hundred and twenty acres. He acquired a hand-
some competence, which now enables him to rest
from business cares.

On the isth of July, 1836, Mr. EcEldowney

married Miss Ann Wallace, daughter of William
and Elizabeth Wallace, and a native of Ireland,
born June 4, 1814. They have eight children.
Dorothy, who was born March 28, 1838, became
the wife of James Hunter, and died June 28,
1870; Mary A., born May 17, 1840, is thewifeof
Samuel McDowall, an attorney at law, engaged in
practice in Salt Lake City; William J., born June
30, 1843, is President of the Chicago Heights
Bank; Martha E., born May 19, 1846, died Feb-
ruary 27, 1867; James H. was born May 20, 1848;
Margaret J., born May 13, 1850, died on the 6th
of July following; Rebecca, born October 8, 1851,
is the wife of William J. Campbell, an attorney
at law; and Andrew W., born February 6, 1854,
completes the family.

Since the organization of the party, Mr. Mc-
Eldowney has been a stanch Republican in poli-
tics, and has been honored with several local offi-
ces. He has served as Supervisor, and for the
long period of twenty years was Justice of the
Peace, proving a capable and efficient officer. In
1886, he was called upon to mourn the loss of his
wife, who died on the 7th of September, and was
laid to rest in Bloom Cemetery. She was a
member of the Presbyterian Church, to which
Mr. McEldowney also belongs. His life has been
well and worthily passed, and throughout the
community in which he has so long made his
home he has the high regard of all.


|"7 VERITTE ST. JOHN, General Manager of
ft) the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Rail-
Li road, was born at Sharon, Litchfield County,
Conn., February 4, 1844. Both parents were
natives of that State and of English lineage.
When four years old, his father died, and his
mother, though left with a large family of chil-

dren, managed to provide for their physical com-
fort and gave each a public-school education.
Ambitious to begin a career of usefulness, at an
early age the subject of this biography began to
earn his livelihood by becoming a clerk for his
elder brother, who filled the combined offices of
Postmaster, station agent, Town Clerk and gen-



eral store-keeper of the village. Here, and in his
mother's home, were imbibed in a large degree
those principles of industry, economy and perse-
verance which have characterized the man, and
which are essential to the successful management
of an extensive railway system, or other large en-

Through the medium of the local gossip, which
had its natural center at the village postoffice, he
heard much of the success of other young men
who had left the Nutmeg State to seek their
fortunes in the great West, and becoming inocu-
lated with the western fever, at the age of seven-
teen years he resigned his position as his broth-
er's assistant and went to Quincy, 111. Here he
became a clerk in the general ticket office of the
Quincy & Toledo Railroad, at a salary of $30 per
month. When that road was consolidated with
the Great Western Railroad, of Illinois, he was
transferred to a similar position at Springfield,
with a slight increase of salary. One year later,
having received an offer of a better position from
the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, he came to
Chicago, and on the 4th of July, 1863, began his
career with that corporation. His steady appli-
cation and untiring energy soon attracted the at-
tention of his superiors, and secured promotion
to a more responsible and lucrative position. Suc-
cessively he became Chief Ticket Clerk and Gen-
eral Ticket Agent, occupying the latter position for
fourteen years. At the expiration of that period,
he was appointed General Ticket and Passenger
Agent of the road, and six months later became
Assistant General Manager, while still holding
the former position. In July, 1887, he was made
General Manager of the lines east of the Missouri
River, and the duties of that office were supple-
mented by those of Assistant General Manager
of the lines west of the Missouri River. On the
ist of April, 1889, he assumed the position of
General Manager of the entire system, bringing to
the discharge of his duties the ripened experience
of a quarter-century of active railroad labors.

With the growth and development of the great
West, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Rail-
road system has grown, and in many localities
has preceded the development of its tributary terri-

tory. Mr. St. John has constantly striven to improve
and perfect every department, and to that end
has devoted much of the time given by others to
recreation, having often given, for many years,
twelve to fifteen hours per day to his work. His
industry has been something phenomenal, and it
is a source of wonder to his acquaintances that
he has not given way in physical vigor under the
assaults made by his own ambition and industry.
He is remarkably free from all ostentation and
those assumptions of exclusiveness often affected
by men in high and responsible positions, and is
among the most approachable and genial of men.
Having conquered by labor his own elevation, he
can sympathize with all who labor, and his latch-
string is always out to the humblest employe who
has a grievance, or a request to make.

As Chairman of the General Managers' Asso-
ciation, Mr. St. John bore no small part of the re-
sponsibility in overcoming the great sympathetic
strike of 1894, i which the American Railway
Union, composed largely of switchmen, and others
identified and unidentified with railroad opera-
tions, sought to compel the railroads of the
country to abandon the use of Pullman cars, be-
cause of an alleged grievance of members of the
union against the Pullman Palace Car Company.
The principle thus sought to be set up being
wholly un-American, and not acknowledged by
thinking people, the railroads set about carrying
on their own business according to existing con-
tracts with the Pullman Palace Car Company,
and for the accommodation of the traveling pub-
lic. The false principle was set up, and an at-
tempt made to force the railroads and the public
to accept it, that the strikers had a right to pre-
vent, even by force, anyone from operating the
roads by fulfilling the duties and service they had
left. The General Managers met every emer-
gency, and by co-operation soon secured men to
operate trains; and the National Government
protecting its mails and inter-state commerce, de-
lays were averted, and as speedily as possible the
resumption of traffic, both passenger and freight,
thereby secured. All this was not accomplished
until much valuable property, chiefly the cars of
the railroads and their freight, belonging to ship-



pers all over the country, had been destroyed by
fires set by strikers and their sympathizers. By
their firm position and prompt action in securing
the most ready and valuable protection, the Gen-
eral Managers won, and received the admiration
and thanks of law-abiding people everywhere,
and also made more certain and intelligible the
principle that every American citizen has the
right to undertake any honorable employment
he wishes, and that no class can rightfully cut off
the privileges of the rest of the world to secure its
own selfish ends.

As Chairman of the Railway Finance Commit-
tee of the World's Columbian Exposition, he en-
abled that association to add nearly $1,000,000 to
its treasury. He has been for years connected
with many important railway associations, as fol-

lows: Chairman of Executive Committee of the
Trans-Missouri Freight Association; Chairman
of Western Railroad Weighing Association and
Inspection Bureau; Chairman of the Chicago
Car Service Association, and a member of the
Executive Committee of the Western Freight As-

Mr. St. John was happily married in 1869 to Miss
Emilina B. I<amson, of Andover, Mass. They
occupy a pleasant home on Rush Street, Chicago,
where is stored his library of over one thousand
choice volumes. He is a communicant of the
Episcopal Church ; a member of the Union league
Club, and of Waubansee I^odge No. 160, A. F. &
A. M.; Past Eminent Commander of Montjoe
Commandery, No. 53, K. T., and ex-President
of the Sons of Connecticut.


eldest child of the great inventor of the
reaper, Cyrus H. McCormick. His mother
is Nettie Fowler McCormick. He was born on
the i6th of May, 1859, in Washington, D. C.,
where his parents lived for several months while
his father was securing patents on his reaper. At
an early age, young McCormick entered the pub-
lic schools of Chicago, and at the age of eighteen
was graduated from the High School at the head
of his class. He at once entered Princeton Col-
lege and became a member of the Class of '79.
In the autumn following, he entered the business
of the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company,
and served in several departments in order that
he might obtain a knowledge of its various
branches. On the death of his father in 1884, he
was elected to succeed him as President of the
company, and has continued in that position up

Online LibraryJohn MorleyAlbum of genealogy and biography, Cook County, Illinois : with portraits (Volume 1900) → online text (page 74 of 111)